Monthly Archives: May 2011

Sounds of Silence

A little over a year ago, I picked up A Book of Silence.  The title intrigued me, as did the premise: writer Sara Maitland traveled into silence of the most extreme kind.  She leased a remote cottage on the isle of Skye and lived there alone.  In the tradition of the early desert fathers, she traveled into the Sinai desert to sit in solitude for days (and a few nights).  She forced herself alone into scary dark forests.  She found moments of fear and anxiety as well as great joy and elation.  She encountered a kind of porousness of self … Continue reading

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Our Books, Our Selves?

A few years ago, after giving a reading, I invited questions. My friend Bonnie raised her hand. “You’re so private,” she said. “But you write so personally! You’re so open in your book!” She smiled, her voice affectionate, and yet in her question I heard astonishment and a twinge of hurt, as though I’d confided more in the blank page than I had in her. And I had. As a child, I found in writing not so much a friendly audience – which posited the Other – as a welcome reprieve from the Other. We lived in a neighborhood of … Continue reading

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My good friend Jane

We all have friends like her.  You know the ones.  Months, years go by, and when you see them again, it’s as if no time has passed.  Kim, whom I met thirteen years ago at a writers’ colony.  Sarah, with whom I used to work in New York City.  Jane, who never ages. Maybe you know Jane, too.  She lives inside well-worn pages, and recently, again on the screen.  She’s strong and gentle, direct and candid.  She’s the kind of woman you treasure as a friend, the kind of woman you want to be.  She overcame a brutal childhood and … Continue reading

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Drawing Apples While the Germans Roll In

For years until her death in 2000, my mother and I would meet on Tuesdays at the same Japanese restaurant, before going to hear whoever was speaking that night at City Arts and Lectures.  My mother always dressed to go downtown – and a cultural event counted as “downtown.”  Her shoes were scuff-free, her purse an ample Mommy purse.  I subsisted then on adjunct faculty and freelance proofreading pay, and while I would dress in my best teaching attire, I always felt a little like Cinderella next to her. Not that she made me feel that way.  Ever since I … Continue reading

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